NOTE: Special snapper rules apply in South Australia – more info here.
Semaphore jetty is one of Adelaide’s more popular fishing jetties.
It is over half a kilometre in length, set over shallow sandy bottom, with some broken ground at the end.
The jetty is famous for its big yellowfin whiting.
Fish a rising tide for these whiting when there are no swimmers nearby, and use very light tackle and fresh bait.
Bream are found around the pylons, but they see a lot of baits and can be hard to catch.
Most Semaphore fishos target squid, blue swimmer crabs, garfish, tommy ruffs, salmon trout, yellowfin whiting and yelloweye mullet.
Mullet and salmon trout (juvenile salmon) are caught all year.
Blue crabs are best in summer, with two-spot sand crabs in April/May.
Fish for tommy ruff and gar after dark.
North of Semaphore jetty is the shorter and shallow Largs Bay jetty, which produces mostly blue swimmer crabs and yellowfin whiting around high tide.
Occasional school mulloway are caught from Semaphore jetty.
Big snapper can’t be caught now, but have been caught off Semaphore jetty in years past.
Gummy sharks, eagle and smooth rays are taken with suitable gear off these jetties, but Port Jackson sharks and fiddler rays can be a nuisance.
The author was fishing Semaphore jetty at night when a school of small hammerhead sharks raced in and smashed the tommy ruffs under lights.
Note that there are special rules for fishing for sharks and rays in South Australia.
Other landbased spots to try near Adelaide include North Haven, the productive Port River estuary, and West Lakes, a reclaimed marsh that is now a saltwater canal estate and a great spot to target large black bream.
Register and leave a comment and/or photo about your Semaphore jetty fishing experience.
Find local fishing holiday accommodation here.
South Australian fishing seasons and baits
The following advice applies mainly to the two gulfs.
Black bream - All year, best in winter/spring. They move further up waterways in summer. Use live tube or blood worms, peeled prawn or tiny lures, best dawn and dusk, often at turn of the tide.
Crabs, blue swimmer - Best in summer. Rake them or use nets baited with fish frames, fish day or night.
Crabs, sand (two-spot) - May to June. Use drop nets baited with fish frames, tide dependent, their presence is usually noted when they start stealing fishing baits.
Flathead - All year. Use baits of bluebait, whitebait, small pilchards, squid, fish strips or lures, they bite all day.
Flounder - All year. Will take tiny baits of peeled prawn, worms or squid at night tide, but the usual method is spearing in the shallows at night, usually in summer.
Garfish - Best in summer/autumn but bigger fish often caught in winter. Use tiny baits of maggots, prawn, cockles presented on a float or just drifted back from boat, or dab at night with a net and light, they bite all day.
Mullet - Strong run of fish in autumn/winter. Use tiny baits of mince meat, seaweed worms or cockles. They bite in daylight, usually in very close along beaches at high tide.
Mulloway - Best in summer but caught all year. Use live baits or fresh fish fillets or freshly caught squid. Fish dusk into the night at turn of tide.
Salmon - Big fish best in autumn/winter but small fish show up all year. Use baits of peeled prawn, bluebait, whitebait, cockles, pilchards or lures. Best at high tide at dusk and dawn.
Snapper - All year best in spring/summer. Use baits of squid, pilchards, fish fillets or jigs. Best at dusk and dawn and they come in close after stormy weather. Restrictions currently apply.
Bluefin tuna - these appear off western SA before Christmas, reaching Port Lincoln about late February, and the eastern SA coast around March, depending on currents. Early season brings the biggest fish, along with albacore.
Snook - Bite all year but best in summer. Use lures, pilchards or fish strips. They bite well at night under jetty lights.
Squid - Available all year but best in summer. Use artificial jig lures or baited wire jigs. Best at dawn when the water is clear, but also at dusk and night.
Tommy ruffs - All year. Use maggots, peeled prawn, cockles. Best at night.
Whiting, king george - All year but often better quality fish in winter, use baits of cockles, peeled prawn or squid on the edge of seagrass beds, they bite all day, often tide dependent.
Whiting, silver - All year. Use tiny baits of cockles, worms or peeled prawns.
Whiting, yellowfin - All year but best in summer in spots well away from swimmers. Use fresh or live worms or peeled prawns. Some fishos do OK on tiny lures.
Kingfish - summer.
Silver trevally - summer.
Chow (yakkas) - summer.
Red mullet - all year.
Leatherjackets - all year.
Sweep and zebra fish - all year.
Sharks - all year but better in summer.
Fishing gear for South Australian waters
A 3kg spin outfit is ideal for gar, whiting, mullet and bream. See eBay listing here.
A 3-6kg spinning outfit is suitable for general estuary and light boat fishing in South Australia. See this eBay listing for a suggested spinning combo here.
The above light outfit can be used on shallow, low-energy beaches to catch SA's yellowfin whiting and yelloweye mullet, but a dedicated light surf rod would be better for this purpose.
A heavier surf rod is needed for surf mulloway, snapper and gummy shark fishing. A heavier surf rod is needed for surf mulloway, snapper and gummy shark fishing.An affordable heavy duty surf rod can be seen at the eBay listing here.
For a higher grade 4.6m surf rod, view this eBay listing here.
These heavier surf rods can be matched with this spinning reel ... eBay listing here.
Surf rod-reel combos are available, see eBay listing here.
For boat fishing, a short rod/spinning reel combo loaded with 10kg line is ideal for general reef fishing in water to around 20m deep, and can also be used to cast lures to pelagic fish. See eBay listing here.
Small metal slice lures work well on South Australia's salmon trout, silver trevally, flathead, barracoutta, tommies and snook. See eBay listing here.
Use larger metal slice lures on high-energy beaches where big salmon are expected.
Soft plastic grubs work well on bream, salmon trout and tommies, and freshwater fish such as yellowbelly, redfin, cod and trout. See eBay listing here.
Jig heads are needed for unrigged soft plastic lures. See eBay listing here.
Squid jigs are an essential item in South Australia as large squid are usually abundant in gulf waters and are readily available on jetties. Baited jigs are popular in South Australia - these can be cast and left out until a squid arrives. Bait these jigs with a tommy ruff or mullet and set this under a float. If you don't want to use baited jigs, standard lure jigs such as these work well ... see eBay listing here.
The secret for successful squid fishing is to fish dusk, darkness and dawn, when the water is clear. Summer is usually best.
Floats are useful for suspending a bait, and work well when fishing for South Australia's sweep, tommy ruffs, salmon trout and trevally. The polystyrene floats in the following listing are slid onto the line and a stopper is placed above the float to set the depth fished. See eBay listing here.
Star sinkers or snapper leads are generally used on a paternoster rig for surf and boat fishing. For most other fishing, ball sinkers are used, as part of a running sinker rig. See eBay listing for ball sinkers here and for snapper leads here
Hooks in mixed sizes are needed. Suggest 4# to #8 for whiting, mullet and tommy ruffs, 10# to #12 for garfish, 1/0 for bream, 4/0 for salmon and flathead and 11/0 for large mulloway. See eBay listing here.
Ganged hooks (joined chains of hooks) are often used when fishing pilchard or garfish baits for salmon and mulloway. Listing on eBay here.
Flounder spearing is popular in South Australia. A submerged light is generally used to find the fish, see eBay listing here.
Crabbing is popular in the South Australian shallows, using a crab rake. See eBay listing here.
Check out Parsun outboard motors on eBay
Email us any corrections, additions, pictures or video here.
Some external videos filmed at Semaphore jetty are featured below.